Injuries have pushed these two hitters into starting roles and without a whole lot of fanfare, are therefore likely to be available in your deeper league. With only two and a half weeks to go, buying playing time is the best strategy to fill holes.
Matt Beaty | 1B LAD | CBS 9% Owned
With both Max Muncy and Tyler White hurt, it’s been Beaty getting most of the opportunities at first base in Los Angeles. Heading into the season, he was ranked as the team’s 20th best prospect, which isn’t so impressive, but hey, at least he made the list. The most interesting sentence in his blurb was the following:
He’s a swing change candidate who might benefit from more lift but, at age 26, that seems unlikely.
Beaty had posted fly ball rates from around 30% to 35% during his minor league career, which isn’t so low as to require a swing change to be successful. This is especially true since he never actually showed the ability to turn those flies into homers at any sort of acceptable rate. His career best HR/FB rate was just 11.3%. Sure enough, he hasn’t appeared to change his swing, as his batted ball distribution is right in line with his minor league rates, though his FB% is near the high end of what he’s posted.
Interestingly, his HR/FB rate has now exceeded his minor league high, sitting comfortably in the low teens. Since he has maintained a fantastic strikeout rate, it’s resulted in nine homers in less than half a season. A 600 plate appearance pace would put him at a respectable 23 homers. That contact ability is the most intriguing thing here, especially in an age of ever-rising strikeout rates. It has allowed him to post a positive batting average despite a below league average BABIP.
Beaty clearly won’t wow you with any standout fantasy skill. But his high contact approach gives him a high floor and makes him a safe guy to plug him for the rest of the season.
Yu Chang | 1% Owned
Jose Ramirez getting knocked out for the season opened the door for someone at third base, and that someone has mostly been Chang. The 24-year-old was actually the Indians third best prospect heading into the season and 103rd overall. He has shown power at times in the minors, posting double digit HR/FB rates at three stints, including an 18.2% mark at Double-A back in 2017, but also mixing in a trio of mid-to-high single digit marks. It makes it hard to project what kind of HR/FB rate we should expect from him in the near term.
He has struck out a little more than we would like given his decent, but not great, power, but it’s never been out of control and he doesn’t whiff too frequently to sound any alarms. He has mostly been a fly ball hitter throughout his minor league days, which is a good sign for his home run power, but bad for his BABIP and batting average potential. It’s a tiny sample size, so his low 30% FB% at the moment is rather meaningless.
Though he hasn’t stolen many bases or attempted to, he does have above average speed given his respectable rank on the Sprint Speed leaderboard. He shouldn’t be counted on for any steals the rest of the way though, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he stole a bag or two.
Since Chang could be a big part of the Indians future, the team might as well keep playing him to see if he could provide them with an early hint of whether that will be true. Maybe he’ll hit a dinger or two and steal a base and since he’s playing most days, could be a contributor in the remaining counting stats.
Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.